March 2nd, 2006

Chris Keeley

Salon - Hamas

Date: Thu, 2 Mar 2006 07:50:40 -0500
Subject: another salon article on hamas

I haven't had a chance to read this yet, but figured you'd be

Who is the real Hamas?

Now that it's in power, will the militant Palestinian group accept
Israel's legitimacy in exchange for land? Or is it hiding a
dedication to the Jewish state's destruction behind media-savvy spin?
By Helena Cobban

Michal Keeley
Chris Keeley

Media shutdown in Kenya?

Media shutdown in Kenya?

Investigative blogger Kathryn Cramer says,

I just went to the site of the Kenya Broadcasting corporation to look at something on Google News and it looks like they're in the middle of a fullscale media shutdown. Some subversive soul has found a way into the corporate site aand has added the shot of the burning newspapers at the printing press while I've been looking at it.
Link to more on Kathryn's blog. Cropped screengrab above, Link to full-screen image of KBC's website.


posted by Xeni Jardin

Chris Keeley

The President does not ask one single question throughout the briefing, yet concludes that the gover

Thursday, March 2nd, 2006
Headlines for March 2, 2006
- Video Shows Bush Receiving Dire Warnings Day Before Katrina
- Four Dead in Bombing Near US Consulate in Karachi
- Six Kidnapped Oil Workers Released in Nigeria
- New Iraq Reconstruction Funds Devoted Solely to Prisons
- New York Reaches Settlement With 22 Prisoners in Abuse Case
- Bush Admin. Decreased Fines, Enforcement on Mine Violations
- Council of Europe Urges Better Monitoring of CIA Rendition
- Bolton Says India and Pakistan Acquired Nukes “Legitimately”

Video Shows Bush Receiving Dire Warnings Day Before Katrina
The Associated Press has obtained confidential video footage of President Bush’s final briefing before Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast. It shows the President was given dire warnings the storm could breach levees and threaten the lives of residents of New Orleans. The briefing occurred on August 28th – one day before Katrina hit. On the video, President Bush is seen watching the briefing via a videoconference from his Texas ranch. The President does not ask one single question throughout the briefing, yet concludes that the government is: "fully prepared."

The video shows several federal, state and local officials issuing the warnings. Then-FEMA head Michael Brown tells the President and Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff: "My gut tells me ... this is a bad one and a big one." At another point in the briefing, , a weather expert says he has “grave concerns” on the levees in New Orleans. The video casts further doubt over the White House’s claim it wasn’t adequately warned about Katrina’s possible magnitude. On September 1st, President Bush said: "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees. They did anticipate a serious storm but these levees got breached and as a result much of New Orleans is flooded and now we're having to deal with it and will."

After viewing the video, New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin said: "I have kind of a sinking feeling in my gut right now… From this tape it looks like everybody was fully aware." The White House is already trying to downplay the video. Presidential spokesperson Trent Duffy said: "I hope people don't draw conclusions from the president getting a single briefing."

Ex-FEMA Head Says Response Hampered by “Fog of Bureaucracy”
Meanwhile, in an interview with the Associated Press, former FEMA head Michael Brown dismissed Homeland Security director Michael Chertoff’s assertion that the Bush administration’s response was hampered by the “fog of war.” Brown said: "It was a fog of bureaucracy…My entreaties to the White House about the problems that FEMA was having were falling on deaf ears.”

Four Dead in Bombing Near US Consulate in Karachi
In Pakistan, four people were killed when a suicide bomber attacked a vehicle near the US consulate in Karachi. One US diplomat was among the dead. Another 50 people were reported injured. The attack comes ahead of President Bush’s visit to Pakistan later this week.

Indian Protests Against Bush Visit Include Rally in Bhopal
In India, tens of thousands of people continued their massive protests against the visit of President Bush. In one of several rallies, victims of the 1984 gas leak from the US-owned Union Carbide pesticide factory demonstrated in Bhopal. Over 20,000 died in the aftermath of the Bhopal gas tragedy, while another 100,000 people suffered lasting health problems.

Six Kidnapped Oil Workers Released in Nigeria
In Nigeria, six foreign oil workers, including one US citizen, have been released after a two-week kidnapping ordeal. Their captors, members of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, are demanding more local control over oil resources and the release of political prisoners. Three other hostages – two Americans and a Britain – remain in captivity. The released American worker, Maco Hawkins, said he sympathized with his captors and harbored no ill will towards them.

New Iraq Reconstruction Funds Devoted Solely to Prisons
In other news, the State Department quietly announced this week it has requested $100 million dollars for Iraqi reconstruction – all of it for prisons. The Bush administration initially promised $20 billion dollars to reconstruct Iraqi infrastructure. But much of the money has been diverted to security. State Department Iraq coordinator James Jeffrey said the $100 million dollar prison project was the lone new reconstruction effort the US government will undertake over the next year.

New York Reaches Settlement With 22 Prisoners in Abuse Case
Back in the United States, the city of New York has reached a settlement with 22 prisoners that includes new city-wide measures controlling the use of force by prison guards. The city agreed to pay a total of $2.2 million dollars to 22 prisoners who suffered serious injuries at the hands of city prison guards. Under the agreement, the city will also modify its rules on the use of force, place hundreds of new video cameras to monitor guard behavior and overhaul its mechanisms to investigate abuses.

Bush Admin. Decreased Fines, Enforcement on Mine Violations
In mining news, the New York Times is reporting the Bush administration has decreased the fines for major mining companies and failed to collect fines on nearly half of the mine safety violations issued under its watch. Mine safety regulation has come under increased scrutiny with the deaths of 24 miners this year alone. Tony Oppegard, a former top official at the Mine Safety and Health Administration, said: "The Bush administration ushered in this desire to develop cooperative ties between regulators and the mining industry. Safety has certainly suffered as a result."

Council of Europe Urges Better Monitoring of CIA Rendition
In other news, Europe’s top human rights watchdog urged member states Wednesday to better monitor the CIA’s practice of transferring detainees on European soil. The Council of Europe’s secretary-general Terry Davis said Europe has become “a happy hunting ground” for foreign intelligence activities. Davis said: "Very few countries seem to have adopted an adequate and effective way to monitor who and what is transiting through their airports and airspace… [What] has allegedly happened is illegal under the internal law of all our member states.”

Bolton Speech Disrupted in New York
And in New York, a group of protesters stood up and held signs as UN Ambassador John Bolton gave a speech at New York University Wednesday. One sign read: "US interests – torture, illegal war, secret abductions, racial profiling, war crimes,” among others, and quoted Bolton’s infamous statement that: "Diplomacy is not an end [in] itself if it does not advance U.S. interests."

Bolton Says India and Pakistan Acquired Nukes “Legitimately”
During the speech, Bolton appeared to go further than the Bush administration’s previous stated position on India and Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. Bolton said the countries had acquired the weapons “legitimately.”
Chris Keeley

Public Library Buys a Trove of Burroughs Papers

Burroughs archive bought by New York Public Library

 Beats Burroughs Emeter
The New York Public Library purchased the William S. Burroughs archive, including 11,000 pages of writings (published and unpublished), correspondence, collages, diaries, notebooks, photographs, and 50 hours of unreleased tape recordings. The WBS archive will join the Jack Kerouac archive as part of the Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature. I hope that someday, the entire archive will be scanned and made freely available online for study and mash-up in the Burroughs tradition. (Photo by the amazing Charles Gatewood.) From the New York Times:
Though scholars have never seen most of the material, they were made tantalizingly aware of its existence by Burroughs himself, who published a descriptive catalog of the archive in 1973. Oliver C. G. Harris, a professor of American literature at Keele University in Staffordshire, England, who edited a collection of Burroughs's letters published by Viking in 1993, said the material was the Holy Grail of scholars of the Beat generation.

"My sense is that it will really change the picture of Burroughs that scholars have known," Mr. Harris said, because that picture has been based almost exclusively on Burroughs's work in the 1950's. Much of his more avant-garde experiments, including most of his cut-ups — works created by slicing typewritten text into fragments and rearranging it to create a new narrative — came later, in the 1960's and 1970's...

Much of the archive sheds light on the relationship between Burroughs and the others of the Beat generation, including Timothy Leary, Paul Bowles, Gregory Corso, Terry Southern, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and, of course, Kerouac and Ginsberg.

"The archive is particularly interesting because Burroughs clearly intended it to be read and absorbed as a work of art," Mr. Gewirtz said. Handwritten notes by Burroughs adorn many of the folios of written material, explaining the contents, and the author often added collages of photographs, newspaper clippings or other media to the folders.
Chris Keeley

House International Affairs Committee Hearing 3-2-06

Date: Thu, 02 Mar 2006 18:03:10 -0500
Subject: House International Affairs Committee Hearing 3-2-06
   I attended. Room packed. Subject was Palestinian situation and USG
policy. Adjourned for a House vote after an hour and a half. I did not
return. Began with members trying to outdo each other with uniform and
tough bashing of Palestinians, especially Hamas, with little variation
in language. All supported administration position of having nothing to
do with Hamas unless and until they meet the three announced conditions.
All welcomed total cutoff of funds to any PA headed by Hamas, welcomed
demand for return of pitiful amount of funds previously provided by USG,
joined in chorus of criticism of any country providing funds, even Arab
countries (example cited: nefarious UAE--tied in with ports
controversy). No concern expressed for humanitarian situation of
destitute Palestinians, no worry that likely result will be chaos and
increased violence. Unstated wish was to punish voters for having voted
for Hamas.
   Three witnesses were allowed to read 5-minute prepared statements:
Ambassador Welch on US policy, Mr. Kunder on aid programs, General
Dayton on security situation and measures. Then  questions from members.
Low point was question of General by Lantos about smuggling of weapons
into Gaza through Rafah, something that of course doesn't exist,  but
Lantos showed his concern, as mildly also did the General. Exposition of
our current policy demonstrated that it is now bankrupt. In accordance
with our project of promoting democacy in the Middle East the
Palestinians produced a notably free and fair election. We refuse to
accept the results. Secretary Rice has been going around the area
telling governments to have nothing to do with Hamas, to give no support
or even have contact. Our ambassadors around the world (Welch disclosed)
have been instructed to tell their host governments to adopt our policy,
which is that we are forbidden to have any contact with organizations we
have labeled terrorist. Our aim is to completely isolate Hamas and any
government it is a part of, and to starve the people governed by any
such government.
   Was it not predictable that any free and fair democratic election in
an Arab country would bring to power a party inimical to our interests,
that is, the interests of Israel? Because the Arab people, given a free
vote,  cannot be intimidated by us the way their undemocratic and
unelected governments can be? We are making fools of ourselves, which is
as embarrassing as it is destructive. This is not the path to peace.
Oslo and the Road Map are dead! Have long been dead. Long live the Arab
Peace Initiative. More on that later. But for now the self-assigned
mediators should resign from the job they have botched for the past 40
years. The Palestinians should now launch their own peace plan, confirm
the generous offer that they endorsed when it was tabled at the Arab
League Summit in Beirut in March 2002 (Henry Kissinger should get a
better research assistant as he got the date off by a year), and set a
deadline for acceptance by the Israelis, after which it would be
withdrawn if not accepted.
   Just what is this insistence on the recognition that Israel exists?
Of course it exists. The real question is: nearly 60 years after the
1947 UN Partition Plan for Palestine, does a Palestinian state exist
anywhere in the world, recognized by anyone, and if not, whose fault is
that? Of course we know the answer: It's the Palestinians' fault! Give
me a break.

Robert V. Keeley